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P . Juchem 

Translation of: "Sind Windkraftwerke Moeglich?," 
Koelnische Rundschau, No. 96a, 26 April 1953 


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P . Juchem 

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Translation of: "Sind Windkraftwerke Moeglich?L" Koelnische Rundschau, 
No. 96a, 26 April 1953 

16. Abstract 

A great deal has been written about the project to exploit wind 
energy to produce electrical energy. The controversy over the 
tremendous wind wheels has not died down, and, in the age o£ an 
evergrowing demand for energy, it has again become a subject of 
discussion. The following is a contribution to this subject and deals 
with the project of the Rheinland engineer Hermann Honnef. This report 
reflects the personal opinion of the author about the project. 


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P. Juchem 

When Honnef revealed to the Reich government in 1931 his plan to exploit' 
the stronger and almost constant wind currents in the higher atmosphere zones 
by means o£ wind-driven power plants to produce electrical energy, he loosed 
a storm of Indignation from the coal and energy producing interests. They saw 
themselves threatened by a competitor and were afraid that their investments 
were endangered. 

, Wind-driven power plants have a life expectancy of 3 to 5 times longer 
than thermal power plants and a greater degree of efficiency, said Honnef. Hydro- 
electric power plants vary according to the season in how much energy they put \ 
out and occasionally fail completely. They could only occasionally produce 

surpluses and still had a loss factor of 50%. 

, -^ ... 

Thermoelectrical power plants could contribute to surpluses for accumulation 

but would have for this purpose only a 50% efficiency factor and would use 

twice as much coal for every hour they spent charging the condensers. Without 

storage capacity, however, no effective collection operations would be possible I 

The expense-free natural "forces of wind and water supplement each other admirably 

so that the introduction of large wind-driven power plants would have very 

large economic significance for the overall economy, according to the view of 

the inventor of the wind-driven power plants. 

240 Meter High Steel Towers 

Honnef s plan is to set up on 240 meter high towers counter-rotating, 
hinged turbines, without gears and with ridged blades the diameter of which would 
be 160 meters, and the nominal capacity would be 15,000 kilowatts. The average 
yearly capacity would be 40,000,000 kilowatt hours, which could be higher or 
lower depending on the height and the neighborhood in places —up to 80,000^000 
for Brocken for example. 

The implementation of the plan has been put off again and again. People 
cite and even today still cite the many individual attempts which have failed 


financially, for instance on the Hueberg, at the Berlin Zoo, in' the USA, and so 
forth. Its stability of the plant would be endangered, and there is also the 
possibility of ice buildup, or so goes the argiiment . The only thing which was 
agreed on was to make experiments at first on a small scale. 

The best evidence that Honnef's plan is workable is the fact that Honnef 
was offered 40,000,000 Reichmarks by a foreign firm if 51% of the German patent 
rights could be obtained at the same time. Honnef refused. 

As early as 1952 the VDI-Journal wrote about Honnef's experiment: "This 
is a deed for which we owe Honnef our thanks." Experiments with models in the 
Gottingen and Adlershof wind tunnels showed the first positive results of the 
gearless, counter-rotating machines designed by Honnef. His invention proved 
itself later on the large-scale experimental field of Boetzow-Velten near 
Berlin, when it ran for a full year. The original pictures of it show only a 
small section. Even in the wind tunnel trials it was shown that the feared 
danger of overspeed did not exist in reality, and the full-scale model showed 
it even better. Here all the influences of wind and water, ice and snow could 
be studied thoroughly, especially in the severe winter of 1941-1942. Wind 
measurements taken with sensitive instruments, polygraphs, and gust recorders 
were conducted, and the measurement results of the large meteorological stations 
were evaluated. Meteorologists saw no reason to worry about full-scale con- 
struction. . , 

Honnef drew qualified men from technical schools and international firms, 
such as AEG and Siemens, to work with him on the problems which occurred in the 
areas of statics, electronics, equipment construction, aerodynamics, and energy 

Honnef Built a Radio Tower at Koenigswusterhausen 

The AEG confirmed that the experiments which had been made at the testing 
grounds of the counter-rotating 10,000 volt generator which they had built, 
had fulfilled their expectations. The company had therefore chosen to go ahead 
with building their counter -rotating 500,000-1,000,000 kilowatt hour generator, 
using this facility as a model. Although this larger power plant was finished 
in 1944, it could not be put into operation because of the air raids and was 

lost because of Germany's collapse. The AEG, however, expressed their conviction 

; 1 

that this generator would work just as flawlessly as the smaller model had. 

None of the counter-rotating Honnef wind-driven power plants on the proving 
grounds broke down in all the years that they were in operation, as happened 
with the windmill attempts of individual researchers, whose work was mentioned 
at the beginning of the article. 

When Honnef introduced the freestanding ste^l structure in Germany in the 
20s, an attempt was made to make it look as impossible as one would like to today 
with this wind-driven power plant. Honnef intended to set his high towers on 
little porcelain jblocks of about 20 cm X 30 cm. He was laughedat. After 
that Honnef invited the experts to an experiment in Berlin -Dahlemj where the 
largest hydraulic press in Germany stood; its pressure was about 600 tons. While 
in operation, the press collapsed, but the porcelain jremained whole. Then he 
was allowed a free hand. The large Honnef towers still stand in all the main 
radio parks of Germany, and at their head is our largest piece of construction 
work in the entire country and the largest independently suspended radio tower 
in the world altogether, the Honnef tower in Koenigswiirsthausen with a height 
of 274 meters. After it was constructed, the press reported about "the jewel 
of German technology." 

Tower building is no longer a problem today. Building generators is even 
less a problem. The AEG was already building such generators with 75,000 
kilowatt hour capacity. Authorities in steel building and electrotechnology, 
after long and careful checking of the calculations and the practical experi- 
ments, were no longer reluctant to attempt the construction on a large scale. 

Because Honnef, however, since he had been a boy, had not followed the 
normal architectural paths in his bold construction ideas, which however always 
justified themselves after they were carried out, he had had to fight for 
every bit of recognition. The federal president recognized and praised his 
pioneer work in the area of steel tower construction and wind-driven power 
research, as well as his achievejnents in building bridges and other structures 
by awarding him the Great Order of Merit Cross. What Honnef wants today is cer- 
tainly to take the next step towards making the great wind-driven power plant a 

reality. A technological advance towards providing energy for the economy has 
become a pressing necessity. The water driven power plants, so widely accepted 
as self-evidently necessary today, have obviously not provided this progress. 
Even the natural power of water has had to fight a bitter battle to win its 
place in energy production. 

40 Million Kilowatt Hours 

Doctor Poerscheke, Director of the Ministry, Privy Councillor, and Ph.D. 
in engineering, of the Finance Ministry of Nordrhein-Westfalen, who approved of 
Honnef's plan as far back as 1932 when he was a member of the Reich finance 
ministry and who died in 1952, discovered after the war that he could compare 
the invention of the wind-driven power plants by Honnef only with the other 
greatest technological inventions, such as the steam engine, the locomotive, 
and the car and reminds us of how much resistance these inventions encountered 
in their own time. Of greater interest, however, is what the present director 
of the great East Berlin power plant undertaking called Bewag, Professor Witte, 
discovered in a report in 1935 when he was a power management specialist. As he 
admits in his report, he had at his disposal for this project very complete data 
and documentation as well as a flawless and thoroughly conducted cost estimation 
report. Witte emphasizes the advantage of the wind-driven power plant and goes 
on to the conclusion that, with a generator capacity of 15,000 kilowatts, "on 
the average every year approximately 40,000,000 kilowatts hours could be produced." 
He calls for an accelerated building program and says later in a work of the ETZ 
about the economy and practicality of building wind-driven power plants that the 
power plants can produce electrical energy efficiently only if "the facilities' 
capacities are very high"; but that the installation of such high capacities is 
sensible only if "the stronger and steadier winds at the higher altitudes can be 
exploited, " 

Outstanding Expert 

Experience with small wind-driven machines and small wind-driven power 
plants is already available. The results: windmill-type blades are generally 
useless, while the solid blades of the counter-rotating turbine have held up for 
years until the events of war destroyed them. One could begin such a large under- 
taking today, but in any case, according to Honnef, one must begin the work where 


it was left off. That is the case with the 1,000 kilowatt hour generator. Honnef 
is the only engineer in the world who has had simultaneous experience in building 
high towers, had been doing research and development work for 30 years in the 
area of exploiting wind power, and who has S years experience in testing 
experimental power plants of differing capacities. 

A true expert on works In the area of wind produced power. Doctor Robert 
Schoenhoefer, of Munich, declared in February "Honnef has made himself a name 
as a pioneer of technology and, as everyone knows, he has, in the structural 
development of the field, been able to assemble valuable and practical 
experience from the first wind tunnel experiments to the construction of power 
plants of varying capacities. I know that Honnef proceeded with scientific 
exactness and thoroughness. Honnef s wind-driven power plant is an electrical 
plant of a quite special and unique nature, a work of German inventiveness and 
German engineering, and there can be no objection to carrying it out on a 
large scale." 

D.C. Power Plant "AEG" 10 
Kilowatts, 40 Meters High. 

Project Consisting of Several 
Wind-Driven Power Plants. 

Wind-Driven Power Plants Which Have Been Tested Over a 
Long Period of Time. From 1940 to I94S numerous in- 
stallations were begun and in these installations the 
counter -rotating turbine with its automatic compensation 
for wind direction and with its electrical elements which 
were built into the rings between the blades sustained 
no damage even when being used under the strongest wind 
conditions and maintained its level of power. Of parti- 
cular note was the fact that the turbines could start 
even with a very small amount of wind, between and 1 
meters per second. With a wind speed of between 3 and 3.5 
meters per second, one attained here for the first time 
an energy production which exceed the installations' own 
energy consumption. With the energy produced the lighting, 
heating, and energy needs in the generator room, weather 
station, work shop, and hothouse were covered, and over and 
above that 200 light bulbs of 40 to 60 watt capacity were 
installed in the control room in order to show visitors 
how they burned without flickering. These installations 
were destroyed in 1945. Left hand picture: dual power 
plant 30 meters high and A.C. power plant 37.5 meters 
high. Right hand picture: dual power plants, D.C., 
one with a unipolar engine as a comparison basis. In the 
foreground stands the control room. In the background is 
the D,C. power plant.